Whilst we love exploring places far and wide, we also love exploring our home county of Gloucestershire for family days out. Whilst days out to attractions with kids can get quite costly with ticket prices, parking charges, meals and fuel costs, it can be much cheaper and even free to take the kids for local free family days out. We are very lucky to have a few great places nearby to visit if we don’t fancy spending a lot of money or even any at all. If you are ever in my neck of the woods in south west England then here are a few of the best places you can visit with kids without spending a penny.
Great Witcombe Roman Villa, Witcombe
This is pretty much within walking distance of our house if we fancy a long walk, or it’s a very short 5 minute drive away. We are so lucky to have this so close to our home. It’s the ruins of a Roman villa that was likely to have been built in the first century. The setting is absolutely gorgeous. It’s on a hillside and every time we have visited it has been very peaceful. Often we have been the only people there. It’s the perfect spot for a summer picnic and the kids love climbing around the ruins (they are very low down) and pretending it’s their castle. If you fancy a walk then The Cotswold Way is in the woodland just above the villa and can be accessed directly from the villa site. You can even walk to Coopers Hill which is the site of the famous annual Cheese Rolling event! There’s a free car park and then a short walk with great views up to the villa.
Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, Coleford
The Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean is around 4.5 miles long and takes you through the beautiful forest setting as you try to find the 16 active sculptures along the trail. I have done this trail several times as a child and even adult. Some of Ben’s family now live in Coleford. The most memorable sculptures being the giant’s chair, stained glass window and train track. There are a further 12 sculptures that have been decommissioned and there is not much left of them, but you may also find their remains along the way. There is lots of free parking in the forest.
Gloucester Docks, Gloucester
There is so much to see and be amazed at with a visit to the historic docks of Gloucester. Take a walk along the canal path to spot narrow boats and wildlife. Have a walk around the docks themselves to admire the many fascinating boats. Quite often there are ‘pirate ships’ being fixed in the dry docks which are so magical for the children and even us adults to see. There are fifteen Victorian warehouses still standing proud. If you have a bit of money to spend then you can hire a narrowboat for the day, go on a boat trip tour, visit one of the many cafes or restaurants or pop into Gloucester Quays outlet for a spot of retail therapy. There is some free parking around the city of Gloucester if you know where to go, but otherwise there are payable car parks at the docks.
Pittville Park, Cheltenham
Pittville Park is a massive public open space and park in Cheltenham. My mum used to take me and my sister as a child and now I take my own children! It’s a stunning place with Pittville Pump Rooms as a backdrop, a lake with ducks, playparks, wooden adventure playground, animals, row boats for hire, cafes, bridges and more. The main play park was drastically improved a couple of years ago and is the best play park for kids that we’ve seen in Gloucestershire. There is plenty for kids to see and do here and it’s easy to spend half a day or more here. You can park for free at the Pump Rooms or in nearby residential streets.
Robinswood Hill Country Park, Gloucester
The top of the hill has stunning panoramic views and is worth climbing to the top to see. We managed to walk up with Bella, age two, who surprised us by walking all the way to the top refusing our offers of a carry! There are beautiful woods and trees to explore on the way up. Wooden play equipment at the base of the hill is a great reward for the children after the hill walk. There are also some interesting wooden carved animals to see. There is a free car park.
Severn Ham, Tewkesbury
This is a beautiful place for a late spring or summer walk when the meadow is vibrant in colour and full of beautiful wildflowers. It’s possible to walk following the footpaths through the meadow or alongside the river, down to the weir. We took a picnic once when Bella was around age one and sat right in the meadow surrounded by flowers and wildlife.
Over Farm, Gloucester
The farm is great to walk around to see the various animals such as ponies, ostriches, pigs, goats and sheep for free. If you have some pocket money then you can buy animal feed from the farm shop. There is a farm shop and café too. I’ve bought items from the farm shop before and lunch, but I’ve always sat outside on the picnic benches, so can’t comment on the café. It’s a great place to pop to for the kids to see some animals.
Stratford Park, Stroud
This is a great free day out with young children. I went as a child and remember playing Pooh sticks on the bridge. Unfortunately when I recently went with my children there was too much debris from fallen trees under the bridge to play Pooh sticks, but the rest park is still amazing even if you can’t play Pooh sticks on your visit! There’s a large lake to walk around with ducks and swans. There’s a wood to explore a large open field and a huge playpark at the end with a zip-wire which Bella loves! There’s also a bandstand in the park that the kids love and a miniature steam railway. The steam trains are sometimes there and are 50p a ride and highly recommended with the kids. There’s also a free museum in the centre of the park.
Hopefully these suggestions have given you some cheap and cheerful ideas of things to do in Gloucestershire for free or when on a budget with kids.
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